Submitted by Dr. Valerie French, OB/GYN
I’m a physician and a member the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the nation’s leading organization of women’s health care physicians. As an obgyn practicing in Kansas City, I'm honored to provide women with quality health care every day. But politicians are trying to pick and choose the health care options available to women and their families.
The Title X program has provided critical preventive care to US families for nearly 50 years, and now serves more than 4 million people annually. The Trump administration has released a policy called the “gag rule,” which will strip critical Title X funds away from health care providers who offer information about the full range of reproductive health care options, including abortion. This “gag rule” is blatant censorship and if enacted, will prevent health care providers from carrying out their ethical duty to provide complete and accurate medical information to their patients.
If the “gag rule” were to be our new reality, my patients and patients around the country would be immediately affected. Let me tell you about a woman I recently cared for, I’ll call her Sarah. Sarah had given birth 2 months before I met her and had gotten her tubes tied after delivery. You can imagine her surprise when her pregnancy test was positive. When I told Sarah that she was pregnant, she wanted to discuss what her pregnancy options were. As Sarah weighed the care of her 2-month-old, her financial situation and her health, she asked where she could safely obtain an abortion. As her doctor, we talked about how and where she could get an abortion. We talked about the necessary time away from her job and her family. We never once considered what politicians might think of us discussing a safe, legal, medical procedure. Everyone should have the right to information about their health care - including information about safe, legal abortion.
Politicians have no role in picking and choosing among qualified providers. Title X is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to providing low-income and young patients with access to essential family planning and preventive health services. Under this “gag rule,” more than 40% of Title X patients are at risk of losing access this critical care. Restricting access to care and information will increase rates of unplanned pregnancy, pregnancy complications, and undiagnosed medical conditions. Thanks to programs like Title X, our nation has achieved a 30-year low in unintended pregnancy. Teen pregnancy rates are the lowest in recorded history. These are TREMENDOUS achievements, and we need to keep fighting for more progress like this. We can’t afford to move backwards. The administration should advance policies that continue this positive trend, not undermine it.
I stand with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatricians, the American College of Physicians and many more professional medical organizations who demand that we put patients first and withdraw this “gag rule” without delay. This “gag rule” jeopardizes our patient-provider relationship and could prevent millions of people from getting the care they need. Instead of preventing access to medical information, policymakers should be focused on increasing access to the resources that Title X recipients need to lead healthy and autonomous lives.
Please join me in submitting a comment to oppose the Title X gag rule through this link. Comments close July 31.